Monday, February 26, 2018

What My Totaled Car Told Me about the Struggle

I totaled my car last week. We had a good 10 year run. 160,000 miles on her. I promised I would drive that car until I run it into the ground, and that is exactly what happened. My previous car, I said I would drive it until it burst into flames, and that is exactly what it did, with me in it. You would think I’d learned my lesson about being careful what I say. But just in case, my next car, I’m going to drive it until is becomes a multi-million dollar collectible antique.

The entire ordeal of the accident may have been a sign of providence regardless. It happened on Black History Month, and it became a pretty good analogy for the plight of people of color.

I was trying to not harm the black woman before me.

Black women have it hard enough in this country. They are often the most criticized for no reason except that people think they have authority to do so. People do not care about the suffering they endured, but their contributions to the world are always used without credit given. It’s not just white men shitting on them; it’s black folks also. So when I tried to brake and realized I would not be able to stop, I sacrificed my safety to keep from hitting that woman’s Honda. I almost hit a tree, but instead I flattened a street sign, so…silver linings? Although, my car dying because of a tree would have a little bit more historical reference…Regardless, we need to be better at heeding to black women and not trying to ram them off their roads to success.

Everyone blamed the Black Ice.

There is little more frightening while driving than applying your brakes and your car not so much as slowing down. Though I was going a steady 30mph, I skidded a frozen part of the road. I was done for. I blamed it on black ice. The woman who I almost hit blamed it on black ice. The white guy driving behind me blamed it on black ice. The officer who came after I called 911 said it was DEFINITELY the black ice…at least I THINK he was saying “black ice”. Regardless, we were all in agreement that Black Ice is terrible.

But what MADE the Black Ice so insidious? Why were the roads so slippery? This year we suffered over 400 centimeters of white snowy oppression. It was everywhere, reshaping the landscape that did not ask to be reshaped, creating hazards as it blanketed the region. Everything native to ground was disappeared, and those dark roads were set upon by the snow. But ultimately, I must take responsibility for my own actions, as well. I’m not saying black ice wasn’t the culprit, but when you look at the background, of how it came to be, you get a bigger picture of what is REALLY going on. #StayWoke Also #TenAndTwo.

Mediocre white dudes WILL insert their opinion where it is not needed or wanted.

As soon as I got out of my car to examine the damage and make sure I didn’t hurt anyone else, the white guy who was behind me got pulled over to make sure I was okay, looked at my car, and said, “You could probably just drive it home and take care of it! Just take off that ripped part of the fender, and you’re good.”

OK, first of all, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal. My fender is halfway off, and I am pretty sure a street sign counts as public property. I am not catching a charge for vandalism AND damaging my car, even if it were drivable. Second, white guy’s car was white with a grey door. Pardon me if I don’t take advice from someone who didn’t take care of his OWN car well. Most importantly, no matter how much he insisted I could just drive off, with a ripped fender, a dangling headlamp, and a flat tire, THERE WAS A STREET SIGN UNDERNEATH MY CAR. I kept telling him that, but he just glossed over that. “Just drive off”, he said. Just fuck off, Stephen with a V! You don’t know the severity of the damage done to me car’s body! Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean the signs aren’t there! I TOLD you about the signs, and you ignored it or made it seem less important than what it was. Your refusal to listen to me is part of the problem!

The ultimate vindication when nobody saw.

Hours later, the tow truck came and frantically worried about my undercarriage. “See?!”, I wanted to tell Stephen with a V in the two-tone car. Even the experts are worried about that sign. They care! Tow truck guy was very worried that I may have punctured the gas tank or severed a brake line. “See?!?!”, I wanted to tell Stephen with a V in the two-tone car. Had I just driven off, I could have not been able to stop or blown up! Waiting for a tow was the smart thing to do! Two days later, the insurance claim adjuster called me up with the bad news: My car was totaled. The cosmetic damage wasn’t a big deal, but the damage under the car was too expensive to fix. “SEE?!?!?!”, I wanted to tell Stephen with a V in the two-tone car. I was right the whole time; and you didn’t see them SIGNS! You ignored them! Much like the effects of redlining and micro-aggressions, the damage to people of color is validated by professionals who know what they’re talking about, but by that time, mediocre white dudes have completely checked out of the conversation and moved on. I was vindicated to the wind…also, RIP my car.

Sometimes doing the right thing hurts you.

I would have rather not totaled my car, but it could have been much worse. I could have gone slower even though was going the 30mph speed limit. I could have turned left and veered into the oncoming traffic side and hoped that no one was in that lane. I could have crashed into the woman in front of me and cause a chain reaction, blocking the road for however long it would take to clear however many cars from the road. I could have hit the tree and DIED…it was a pretty sturdy tree. Instead, I jumped a curb and ran over a sign. Painful as it was for me, it was not so for everyone else. A lot of times we need to sacrifice our own comfort and stability for the greater good. We should remember that as we go through life trying to do better for our community.

No matter how much we are set back, we WILL get ahead.

The new car I bought is dope, so at least something good came out of this. Nigga, we gon’ be alright!

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